CAUPD: Interview with Joy Kwong

Joy Kwong (MPL ’11) was interviewed about her recent experience working with the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design.

What is CAUPD?

 

Over the last five years, CAUPD has hired interns from several universities in the United States, namely USC, UCLA, and more recently, Georgia Tech and Portland State University.  The Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD) is not a school – it is an arm of the Ministry of Housing, Urban, and Rural Development (MOHURD), which is in charge of the major construction and development of cities across China. CAUPD is the preeminent institution for planners in China.

What attracted you to intern at CAUPD?

I’ve been interested in international development for quite some time. The internship gave me the opportunity to experience what’s going in the fastest growing country in the world. The 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai World Expo (themed “Better City, Better Life”), are two prime examples of China’s growing prominence in the world. Being able to visit those two cities this summer gave me a glimpse of just how fast China’s cities are modernizing and expanding.

What did you do at CAUPD?

I worked with the International Research Studio, which is the department that engages in best planning practices across the globe. The department consists of 8 planners, who typically propose policies in collaboration with other departments. They are in charge of drawing actual plans ranging from the underdeveloped Xinjiang province, which is a region comprised of ethnic Uyghurs, to the rebuilding of the city of Beichuan, which suffered a major earthquake in 2008. They are also working on the 2030 master plan of Shenzhen, which thanks to its economic development policy (Special Enterprise Zone) has grown from a small fishing village of 30,000 people 30 years ago to a city of 15 million people.

My specific area of research was on community-based planning. I ended up giving a presentation on techniques that planners can use to engage the public to plan for China’s rapidly urbanizing cities. Additionally, I assisted in the research of a World Cities Rankings Index. The mayor of Beijing hired the department to come up with recommendations on how the city can make the top 5 on the World Cities Index in 50 years based upon political, economy, environmental, and social factors.  Lastly, I assisted in the writing of several publications on issues dealing with sustainability and eco-system theory. Although China’s cities are ranked amongst the most polluted cities in the world, the government is very concerned with mitigating GHGs and creating ‘eco-cities.’

What have you learned about the planning practice in China as it compares to the U.S.?
Planning in China is very centralized, which means they can get a lot done even with the lack of public consent. Shanghai is only 100 years old, but in the last 10 to 15 years, duringg which China’s GDP averaged 10% yearly growth, the Pudong Area (Financial District, which has Shanghai’s iconic building structures) has developed greatly. While CAUPD is beginning to embrace the idea of community-based planning, it will be awhile before they can fully engage the public in the planning process. They have yet to adopt policies and methods such as EIRs to mitigate the environmental impacts of rapidly developing places like Shenzhen, where factories are negatively affecting neighboring cities like Hong Kong.

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